Artist Lois Goglia has been examining the relationship between Art, Science, and Medicine for over thirty years. She has created multiple series using animal and human X-rays, mammograms, ultrasound radiographs, X- rays of cells growing in Petri dishes, X-rays of DNA sequencing gels, and brain cell photographs combined with traditional and nontraditional art supplies.
Goglia contends that X-rays are fraught with unpleasant connotations because of their associations with physical disabilities and disease. Very rarely have X-rays been investigated as an art form, despite the fact that they emit an artist's formal vocabulary: line, value, color, texture, and shape.
Goglia asserts that she sees X-rays with an artist's eye, not as a medical diagnostician. She associates the X-ray imagery to photography. The X-ray's value contrasts, textural variations, linear qualities, and unusual shapes engage her. She thinks many are beautiful and intriguing. Furthermore, she opines that X-rays explore an old art theme in a new and unique way: figurative art has been a subject for artists since the time of the caveman's animal and human wall drawings.
Using X-rays donated by veterinarians, physicians, medical researchers, and friends, Goglia created multiple series of X-ray artwork. She states that her work speaks of the human condition: that its transparency implies their ability to see through many layers to truth. X-rays also reference the body's interiority and spiritual life. Goglia's work with torn and pasted together X-rays suggests that cutting edge science may have removed us from our inner light and spiritual selves to put our bodies at dis-ease.
In her latest Series, Covid Variations, 2020, Goglia repurposed a coat rack, floor tiling, CD's brain cell images, and Plexiglas panels to create her poignant and eye-catching artwork, Double Vision. In her Lifecycle and Identity Series Goglia attaches X-rays to light, boxes. These series, with their illuminated X-rays, make the inner body's malfunctions visible in order to facilitate a diagnosis and cure.
When I recall the significant events in my life that influenced my artistic development, three immediately experiences come to mind: taking my first art lessons with a neighborhood artist; moderating the Meet The Artist Series for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra; and attending graduate art classes at Wesleyan University, while studying for my Masters of Liberal Arts degree.
As a child there were only two professions my parent deemed appropriate for me: teacher or nurse. I chose education because it supported my husband and me, while he was in veterinary school. The X-rays from his practice eventually provided me with the radiographs to start my exploration of the relationship between Art, Science, and Medicine.
I started making art on a regular basis only after my second son was born. To do this, I exchanged babysitting with a neighbor, and used this free time to take a spattering of classes at various local art institutions. It was in these classes I realized that skills other students found difficult, seemed natural for me.
During that period in my life, I was spending most of my spare hours painting and drawing. However, my other ability, singing as a member of the New Haven Chorale, still took up a significant part of my life. So did serving on multiple art and music boards.
A staff member from the New Haven Symphony Orchestra requested that I moderate a Meet The Artist Series for the NHSO. During these lectures I met the most prominent musicians of our time (Aaron Copland, Emanuel Ax, Andre Watts). A common thread through all their discussions was that they practiced their instruments many hours each day. I realized that if I wanted to take myself seriously as an artist, I would have to disconnect from the music and art boards, and focus on making and learning more about contemporary art.
With this in mind, I enrolled at Wesleyan University Graduate School. An art history professor took my class to New York City and Soho to tour avant-garde art galleries. After each class, I was required to write a review of an exhibition I had seen. Writing skills I learned from this class provided me with the knowledge to write art reviews for Art New England Magazine.
Analyzing exhibitions for Art New England forced me to reconsider my own artwork. I found it outdated. My conventional landscapes, portraits, and still lives seemed irrelevant. I needed to put my artwork in tune with contemporary art practices I learned about during my studies at Wesleyan: to create art that reflected the times I am living in.
I stopped painting. I needed to invent something challenging for me to create, and challenging for viewers to look at. But what?
One day I walked into my husband's veterinary hospital. As I looked across the room, I saw an X-ray on a light box. It had all the properties for art making: line, value, color, texture, and shape. Most importantly, X-rays served as metaphors for the human condition. Since that A-HAH moment thirty years ago, I have been using X-rays radiographs to create artwork about current social and political issues. Covid Variations is a case in point.
Copyright © 2022 Lois Goglia